A controlled explosion without a Fly-Bag in the hold.
A controlled explosion without a Fly-Bag in the hold.

A bomb-proof composite lining developed by an international team of scientists, including academics from the University of Sheffield, has successfully contained blasts in a series of controlled explosions in the luggage hold of a Boeing 747 and an Airbus 321.

The Fly-Bag, which lines an aircraft’s luggage hold with multiple layers of fabrics and plastic composites, was tested under increasing explosive charges on disused planes at Cotswolds Airport, near Cirencester, UK.

Using this technology, the tests have demonstrated that a plane’s luggage hold may be able to contain the force of an explosion should a device concealed within a passenger’s luggage be detonated during a flight. This would mitigate damage to the plane and help keep passengers safe.

After the tests, explosives were placed in the aircraft without the lining to show the damage that could be caused.

‘Key to the concept is that the lining is flexible and this adds to its resilience when containing the explosive force and any fragments produced,’ said Dr Andy Tyas, of the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, who is leading the research at the University of Sheffield. ‘This helps to ensure that the Fly-Bag acts as a membrane rather than as a rigid-walled container which might shatter on impact.’

Hardened luggage containers (HULD) have been developed to deal with bombs hidden in passenger luggage, but these containers are heavier and more costly than conventional equivalents.

This story is reprinted from material from the University of Sheffield, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.